Fleck v. Wetch, No. 16-1564 (8th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
When plaintiff learned that the State Bar Association of North Dakota (SBAND) was using his compulsory fees to oppose a measure that he volunteered time and money to support, he filed suit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. In Knox v. Service Employees International Union, Local 1000, 567 U.S. 298 (2012), a public-sector union provided an annual Hudson notice calculating germane expenses and permitting non-members to opt out of non-germane expenses by objecting within thirty days. The Eighth Circuit held that the opt-out issue debated by the Supreme Court in Knox was simply not implicated by SBAND's revised license fee statement. Accordingly, because Knox did not overrule prior cases holding that the First Amendment does not require an opt-in procedure, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment and dismissal of the case.
Court Description: Loken, Author, with Colloton and Kelly, Circuit Judges] Civil case - Constitutional law. In an action by a member of the State Bar Association of North Dakota alleging the Association's opt-out procedure violates his right to affirmatively consent before subsidizing non-germane expenditures, the district court did not err finding the Association had implemented constitutionally adequate procedures to protect the First Amendment rights of North Dakota attorneys who oppose a non-germane expenditure; in response to this suit, the Association adopted revised policies and the revised license fee statement adequately disclosed a member's option not to fund non-germane expenditures and gives the attorney the ability to make a deduction and submit a lower payment; if the attorney does not choose the Kelller v. State Bar of California, 496 U.S. 1 (1990) deduction, the attorney opts in to subsidizing the non-germane expenses by the affirmative act of writing a check for the greater amount, and the revised procedures comply with Keller and Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, 475 U.S. 292 (1986).
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on August 30, 2019.